In line with an assurance it gave to the United States last year to work towards reduction of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), India has proposed a draft amendment to the Montreal Protocol to enable a complete phase-out of the HFCs in a time-bound manner.
HFCs, commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners, are gases with substantial global warming potential, some of them as much as 12,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the most common cause of global warming.
As of now, there is no international mechanism to reduce or eliminate the production or consumption of HFCs.
The Montreal Protocol, which came into being in 1987, is designed to oversee the complete elimination of ozone-depleting gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) which were being used as refrigerants and coolants earlier. The HFCs replaced the CFCs and HCFCs after these got banned under the Montreal Protocol.
India has, in the past, has been amongst the countries that are opposed to the expansion of the scope of the Montreal Protocol to include HFCs.
These countries wanted the reduction of HFCs to be governed by the international climate regime like the Kyoto Protocol that governs the reduction of greenhouse gases. Unlike the Montreal Protocol, in which each of the 195 signatories is equally responsible for eliminating the banned chemicals, the climate change arrangement puts “differentiated responsibilities” on developed and developing countries.
In its draft amendment, one of the several that are likely to come from the Montreal Protocol parties, India has proposed different trajectories for phase-out of HFCs by developed and developing countries.
The US submitted its own amendment earlier this week. It has suggested that developing countries should get at least 15 more years to eliminate their HFCs as compared to developed nations. This extra time would enable domestic industries in these countries to shift to cleaner and economically feasible technologies.
India has also proposed strengthening of a financial mechanism and transfer of technology to entitle developing countries to claim full costs of converting an HFC-based chemical plant into one based on cleaner technology, besides compensation for “lost profit streams” during the conversion process.